blogging 101, Europe 2017, London

London days 1 and 2

After Croatia we were anticipating a different experience and life at a very different pace armour next location….our expectations of London have been right so far

the first day after Pula in Croatia was mostly travel…didn’t get in to our new accommodation in St Pancras till after 5 pm. So we had a leisurely stroll round our “new area”  to check out the important things like supermarket and food outlets

Initial impressions of our surroundings were the huge  numbers of people seemingly just milling around. The numbers were also highlighting the diversity of  the people. Indians, Pakistani’s, Muslims, Africans, Carabeans, Asians…as well as the paler locals and the tourists of course. Then there were the beggars (who did not look as desperate or obviously handicapped as we would see in Croatia) ,the homeless and those that were obviously suffer from mental illnesses or addictions

On day 2 it was time to explore more and also check out the local areas in greater details. Even though housing densities in central London are high, there are still numerous interspersed gardens and parks that bring some sanity and beauty to the city

In the afternoon we visited the “Wellcome Collection”…an amazing (big , light and both luxurious and contemporary at the same time) building housing displays and exhibits relating to all things health, medical and the human body

later in the day we spent 3 hours wandering around the British Museum…hardly “scratching the surface” in relation to the number of artefacts and items we saw. Most of my time was spent looking through the galleries of the Egyptian eras. The mummies, burial rituals and tombs, technologies, lifestyles and beliefs. It’s amazing how 3 hours can just seem to disappear!

PArt of a display in the history of clocks and watches and there signicance to navigation and trade

just one of many gardens interspersed amongst the high density residential sprawl that is London

One of several hundred galleries in the British Museum. This one was dedicated to statues and pottery at “one” site between 100-700 BC

blogging 101, Croatia, Europe 2017

Pula, Pula,Pula..little gem

Leaving Split we caught the plane north to Pula….another Croatian seaside town that looked good on paper and contained more Roman artefacts. The town did not disappoint. Firstly the town was compact, so we could walk everywhere. Secondly, and probably because it was not as touristy as previous towns we visited, prices for food and other shopping items seemed much cheaper

Below the Amphitheater are hundreds of old amphorae…big vases used for storing oil and wine in “days of old”
THe Pula amphitheater is one of the better preserved of any of the Roman arenas…the cement holding the stones together is still going strong after 1900 years!
Inside the Temple of Augustus are housed a range of artefacts that are thought to have belonged to the Temple
The Temple of Augustus, as far as we know was built during that emporor’s lifetime. 2000 years ago. Amazingly well preserved…don’t build them like they used to.

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blogging 101, Croatia, Europe 2017

Plitivici National Park…stunning scenery…but crowded…

On Monday it was off to the bus for for 2 hour trip to the Plitivici National Park (PNP)

like most attractions in life.. initial concepts often get dashed by the reality. The PNP is visually stunning. It consists of a series of lakes that cascade into one another. These lakes are spread over hundreds of hectares and due to a quirky set of geological events these lakes are set at about 6 levels. The overall result is a spectacular array of these large bodies of water with waterfalls and cascades between them. My impressions…amazingly clear, and clean water, lots of fish, mixtures of vegetation varying from sub-tropical to beech forest, cascades not tall but extending over long distances   There are options for different trails and as the terrain does not rise to sharply the biggest constraint should be time available. The downside on the day I went were the massive crowds which made the whole experience look like an amusement park and not a natural environment. Typically there would have been 30 -40 people in view at any time….definitely not a wildness experience and detracts from the great natural beauty. This was compounded by lots of thoughtless tourists who thought nothing of stopping in the middle of a busy and narrow path to talke photos   The Park itself is a wonderful venue and could be a great experience…but it’s management will ruin its reputation for the sake of short term profits if they cannot do something about the overcrowding.

This is a typical cascade…one of hundreds. The wooden path surrounded large sections of the lakes..great idea
Beautiful environment with water, greenery and a bit of excitement…but the number of visitors…
blogging 101, Croatia, Europe 2017

Zadar Old Town cheap and magical

After a brief absence from blogging I thought that a catchup was warranted. So sitting on a bus to Plitivici Lakes, with two hours to kill seems to render that opportunity

Our bus trip from Split to Zadar was  an uneventful 3 hours…through scrubby Mediterranean coastlands. Our room in the Old Town in comfy…we have a kettle and  a fridge and a kitchenette set-up…something we take for granted until you don’t have them

Zadar (Old Town) is a beautiful place. Compact and charming. Much of the town was built as we now see it in the 16th and 17 th century, although it has been continually occupied since Roman times…and they have the remnants of Roman civilisation all over the place. Large parts of the Old Town were razed and bombarded during World War 2 and reconstruction went on for 20 years after the war ended

The food is both cheaper and better than Split…when was disappointing to say the least! A good evening meal for 2 people costs about 170 Kuna ($35 Australian).  Little kids are everywhere and generally the population seems to consist a large fraction   of students and young families

At first, making friends in Zadar may seem difficult….



….but before you know it you are like old friends…

The middle of the days have been hot so most of our explorations have been afternoon and evening. Apart from the numerous antiquities the real beauty of this place manifests as the sun sets. On the west end of the Old Town the sea organ and the photo-voltaic displays are worth a visit …but the real attraction is watching the sun slowly sink into a balmy Aegean Sea

St Mary’s Church, Zadar. 16 th century, both somber and plain compared to many we saw in Croatia…but imbued a sense of grounding and purpose
Sunset in Zadar complete with yellow Submarine 
blogging 101, Croatia, Europe 2017

Adriatic evening cruise, cake and art-market

Our last evening in Split was perfect. A cruise off the coast as the sunset slowly over the islands was both beautiful and charming. The vessel we took was an older style chugger…probably a converted fishing boat. The boat and the music that oozed out of the speaker system were distinctively from the 70’s. Lionel Richie, Barrie White and Leo Sayer played to the 20-30 guests…who were mostly old enough to have grown up with the gentler  and more romantic pop music of that generation .

As the sun slipped down behind the islands off Split the boat with it’s reminiscing and content guests cruised back to shore. Mission accomplished….90 minutes of feeling good to be in such a beautiful environment , and grateful for a kind life.

Earlier in the day Yvonne and I spent time drifting through the town and feeling  the good vibes. Even with the patently obvious touristy nature of the town Split has a fundamentally good heart. Happy and well-fed kids running around, couples walking hand in hand and old local people sitting in groups and cheerfully chatting away over coffee and cigarettes

Generally the food in cafes in Split was awful….bacon was mostly fat and gristly. Salads were drowned in mayonnaise and coffee was always a lottery as to what might be served, but because it was served with such warm-heartedness it seems cruel to be critical! I assisted the local economy by consuming most of its cake

So back to our room we go to prepare for the next stage of our journey

A calm Adriatic on a balmy June evening
Yvonne and I enjoy a “selfie ” and soak in the beauty of the moment
Twilight sail in an older style boat with chalm and practicality
blogging 101, Croatia, Europe 2017

Dubrovnik day tripping

A very full day was yesterday. We departed on a mini coach fro the Split bus depot heading south to Dubrovnik. Our driver and guide was Boran..a passionate and knowledgeable local who kept informed on the interesting points of places we were passing through and the history surrounding the towns and coast of Croatia

It is easy to forget for non-locals that it was only 25 years ago since Croatia was involved in a nasty war with Serbia and that feelings are still running high The fact that many of those responsible for the aggressions have not been held to account further inflames those feelings

After the collapse of Yugoslavia Serbia in a “grab for power” tried to take over the military infrastructure and exert control the over states from the old confederation. Many atrocities were committed but due to local resistance and UN intervention the Serbians eventually backed down…  not before hundreds of Croatians and thousands of (mostly Muslim) Bosnians were killed

Along the way we stopped off at a salt production facility at a small town names Ston   This facility has been producing salt in a manner unchanged since the Roman times

Dubrovnic itself was hot and busy. We limited ourselves to the “old town”…an area which encompasses a large fortified castle and a large walled town. The wall itself is up to 30 metres tall and 6 metres thick and is about 4 km in walking distance on the top of the city wall. This complex dates back to the Roman times and the shear size of the constructions are astounding. Mind you it was a work in progress for nearly 1700 years!

As old town complex is on the coast, and the Adriatic Sea is so blue and clear it is no wonder that this castle is used extensively as a set and a backdrop in A Game of Thrones


blogging 101, Croatia, Europe 2017

Ancient history….Split delivers…

We are up  and running from our “petite” apartment near the centre of the old-town part of Split. A stroll of 600 metres takes us down to the markets …that are as much for the locals as the tourists  We gather some fresh strawberries  and pastries for later consumption and enjoy a quick coffee. Possibly stronger and rougher than the Italian stuff ,but still a pleasant jolt to the taste buds.

Suitably refreshed we stroll around the Diocletian palace. This complex has been around for 2 thousand years and is as well preserved as some of its counterparts in Rome

My next project is a haircut…starting to look a little shaggy!

The local barber does a great job…and comments on my likeness to a film star. How can you not like some people

Part of entrance structure to the palace
View of aspects of the Cathedral in Diocletian palace…photo does no justice